I really enjoyed the lecture and could learn a lot from it. The history of the world tells us why it is the way it is today. I resonated with the modern world being a new type of colonialism. International organizations like the UN are controlled by the west. They get to decide about different issues of the world from their perspective. The west dominates over the world economically and politically. Majority of non-white countries still believe that the white countries and their culture is superior to the non-white cultures. It’s funny to see that even the western aesthetic standards are considered to be superior to other aesthetic standards.
India being colonized for 150 years by the British, I can still see the effects of colonialism in independent India. All the universities and schooling structures in India are now based on the British systems. Indian Gurukul system of education has almost vanished. Now no one learns the Vedas, which were considered to be the highest teachings of the Indian philosophy. In India, education was regarded as a tool to understand the highest truth, to become a better person and to be able to differentiate between the right and wrong for yourself. It wasn’t like the western education system, where you learn only for getting a job. Also education was free for all. All children from different backgrounds could learn at the same Gurukul from the same teacher. Thus even a poor child had the opportunity to get the best education. And currently even the school education in India has become extremely expensive. Back in ancient India people weren’t discriminated against based on their skin tones. The famous incarnations of God in hinduism, Ram and Krishna were considered to have dark skin. And beauty wasn’t associated with any particular skin color. Draupadi, the heroine of the Hindu epic Mahabharata was considered to be very dark in color but was also considered to be the most beautiful woman of those times. After colonization, people were made to believe that only white skin tone is superior and all other skin tones are inferior. Its impact is long lasting and people in India still crave for lighter skin tones. Also the British were successful in convincing Indians that Indian scriptures, culture and traditions were meaningless and barbaric. As a result, now Indians are able to accept the teachings of their own culture, only when white people are studying it and telling its importance. So colonialism had such a deep impact that we need approval of white people to believe in the significance of our own traditions. Also, another example is Indians sending their children to white countries, mainly Europe and the United States for higher education. And very few students migrate to other Asian countries or African countries.
Now as the world is becoming a single global system, it can be seen that the family system in India is also slowly diminishing. The family system in India was more like a symbiotic relationship, where everybody benefitted by staying together. Parents took care of their children till they started earning well. Eventually as parents got older, their kids used to look after them. The parents used to get physical support during their old age and the kids got emotional support and advice from their old parents. Also while the kids worked, the old parents used to look after the grandchildren. But now as people are choosing urban lives over rural lives and west over east, the younger generation is shifting away from their parents. As a result, problems like loneliness are arising more.
I also resonated with technology being based on the rooted colonialist approach. The concept of pluriverse is really interesting. Why do we need to accept this single big world? It would be great if cultures could develop technologies and systems based on their own morals and values. Those designs could solve their problems and fit with their structure of society. For example, a school of Indian philosophy values getting rid of material desires and internalizing more. But the capitalistic design of technology encourages one to desire more and want more things. So in a way the western ideology is forced on Indians.
After knowing about decolonizing design, I could reflect more on my project topic. My project topic is a voice assistant, developed with vedanta philosophy. I am proposing a futuristic idea of a conscious voice assistant. I reflected if I am supporting colonization of design by just extracting knowledge from Indian culture to improve Artificial Intelligence or I am actually changing the way people will interact with voice assistants in future based on Indian philosophy. So I thought, along with being conscious, the voice assistant could have a personality based on the vedantic principles. Thus it can talk with people, like a person who has learned and internalized vedanta.